Ahora que la elección ha terminado, esperamos que los políticos y la Administración se centrarán en arreglar el sistema de ayuda estudiantil. Con el fin de hacer esto, it is critical to agree on the goals of federal student aid policies.
As Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab explained in an artículo this summer, the Truman Commission in 1947 called for national investments in higher education to promote democracy by enabling all people to earn college degrees. Subsequent expansion of community colleges, adult education, and federal aid, she writes, “…occurred not in the name of economic stimulation but to reduce inequality and further active citizenship.” These goals, Professor Goldrick-Rab concludes “…have been steadily corrupted.”
Measured by the goals of reducing inequality and furthering civic involvement, federal student aid policies have failed. As we wrote in an post anterior, the shocking reality is that despite all of the government money spent on financial aid, la diferencia en las tasas de graduación universitaria entre los grupos de ingresos superior e inferior se ha ampliado en casi 50% más de dos décadas. Sólo alrededor del 9% de los estudiantes de bajos ingresos a obtener títulos universitarios! According to Professor Richard Wolin, children of a family earning $90,000 or more per year have a 50% chance of earning a B.A. by the age of 24. When household income decreases to $60,000-$90,000, the odds are one in four. For children in a family with income below $35,000, the odds of earning a B.A. by the age of 24 fall to one in 17.
No hay respuestas fáciles a este problema. De hecho, una reciente Artículo del New York Times, termina con una cita de un compañero en el Consejo Atlántico que "Nadie tiene la menor idea de lo que va a trabajar. The cupboard is bare.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education solicited comments this summer on the question of whether higher education is not just failing to promote inequality, but actually driving inequality. Some experts thought the problem is really about credential inflation and the closing of career paths that were formerly open to individuals without college educations. Most pointed out ways in which higher education may in fact be driving inequality. A few excerpts:
Richard Kahlenberg: “Instead of counteracting the inequalities they inherit, colleges and universities magnify them.”
Professors Laura Hamilton and Elizabeth Armstrong note that declining state support and rising tuition do more than reduce access to public higher education for many low-income students. They write that “The trends also lure colleges into catering to the social and educational needs of affluent, full-freight students at the expense of others.”
Professor William Julius Wilson writes that elite institutions now feature a disproportionate number of students from affluent backgrounds. And Professor Thomas Espenshade concludes, on balance, that elite higher education helps maintain social inequality in America.
There is still much debate needed on causes and effect, but the trends are clear— Social mobility in this country is slowing down and too many individuals born into lower-income families are unable to move up through education.
Access to quality higher education is just an illusion for many of our clients and other low-income individuals seeking to better their lives through education. As a society, we keep selling the college dream, but as Professor Goldrick-Rab describes it: “The reality is cruel: Many families now dream the same college dream families always have, but run in place in their efforts to achieve it.” Debt burdens make the situation even worse, leaving many individuals worse off than if they had never tried to go to school in the first place.
There is plenty of blame to go around. Colleges and universities in all sectors too often focus on their own bottom lines and rankings (o en algunos casos los beneficios) rather than truly promoting equal access to education. Too many fight efforts to hold them accountable for consistently poor outcomes. Los gobiernos estatales siguen recortar la ayuda para la educación superior pública, making it increasingly out of reach for the neediest students. Mientras tanto, como los costos aumentan, grant dollars pay for less and students are increasingly forced to rely on loans to pay for school. Federal policy should target funds to those who most need them, sin embargo, algunas políticas, such as tax breaks, proporcionar ayuda principalmente a los estudiantes de mayores ingresos y las familias.
Al mismo tiempo, federal policy hammers student borrowers who get behind on their loans. These policies are particularly short-sighted in that they prevent many individuals from going back to school. Many of our clients come to us because they want to go back to school and improve their employment prospects. Current policies reserve the worst punishment for these borrowers–incentivizing collection agencies to mislead borrowers about their options, negando oportunidades de los prestatarios para salir de defecto y volver a la escuela, incautación de los salarios y las devoluciones de impuestos administrativamente y por otra parte las personas de restricción de un nuevo comienzo.
Tenemos que restablecer nuestras prioridades políticas para que estos prestatarios se les da la oportunidad de un nuevo comienzo, para terminar la escuela, y espero subir la escalera económica.
Para empezar, we urge policymakers to consider these higher education financing priorities as they move forward post-election.